- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Bank of North Dakota, the nation’s only state-owned bank, made $94.2 million in profits last year, setting an earnings record for the 10th straight year, the bank’s president reported Monday.

Eric Hardmeyer, the bank president, presented the 2013 annual report to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which is the bank’s board of directors.

“The bank has grown exponentially,” Hardmeyer told The Associated Press. “Profits are bigger, assets are bigger, equity is bigger, deposits are bigger. Everything is bigger.”

Bank profits last year were up from $81.5 million in 2012, and profits have increased by $60 million since 2004, records show.

The bank’s annual report says assets have grown to $6.8 billion, up from $6.1 billion in 2012. Assets in 2004 were just over $2 billion.

Hardmeyer said the bank’s loan portfolio last year increased 6 percent, to a record $3.4 billion.

The bank, which is based in Bismarck near the Missouri River, acts as an economic development agency, offering low-interest loans to businesses, farmers and students. It also helps private banks finance larger projects.

Bank loan programs funded 309 new businesses in 2013.

“The bank is profitable and continues to look that way. At the same time, we believe strongly in our mission - it’s not all bottom-line driven,” Hardmeyer said. “We make sure we are profitable and we support economic development in the state wherever reasonably we can go.”

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring make up the Industrial Commission.

The Bank of North Dakota plays an important role in our ongoing commitment to build on our economic growth all across the state,” Dalrymple said in a statement.

The bank historically funneled the bulk of its profits to North Dakota’s general treasury for the lawmakers to spend. But the Legislature curbed the practice in recent years to allow the bank to build up its capital reserves, which are now pegged at $551 million.

Oil-rich North Dakota, with a nearly $2 billion budget surplus, has other funds to tap into now.

“State coffers have remained full,” Hardmeyer said. “There was no point in taking money (from the state bank) to further increase the state surplus.”

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